You’re probably thinking I’m referencing an early experiment with a new turkey recipe in this title. Not exactly…
Last Thursday, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, we decided to make our Thanksgiving greeting cards free for two days—completely free, with no strings attached. In this time of giving thanks, we hoped people would take this opportunity to reach out to a few more friends and family members due to the promotion.
“People do say thanks in many ways and to many people…”
We could have restricted this offer to just one card or done something else to prevent overuse, but we chose not to in the spirit of the occasion and ended up underestimating two important learnings. First, it was disheartening to find out how many customers took advantage of the offer in an abusive way. It wasn’t even close to the majority of our customers, but enough people abused the offer to really sour the spirit of what we were trying to do. In just one of several disappointing examples, we had someone try to order 20,000 free Thanksgiving cards with the intent of reselling them. We canceled that order, but it was a perfect example of how disappointed we were in some shoppers during the course of the week.
The other important learning, which we found much more uplifting, was that people do say thanks in many ways and to many people. We were equally overwhelmed by the number of people who embraced this opportunity to reach out in a more intimate way to say “Thanks,” or “We miss you,” or “We are happy to have you in our lives,” to long distance relatives who will be missed or simply to friends spread out throughout the country. There were customers who personalized more than a dozen cards to send to their loved ones, and we were blown away by the response of these dear friends of Tiny Prints.
A day into our two day promotion, however, we had to end it. We did honor the code for everyone who contacted us when we terminated the offer early, but the possibility of greater abuse and the overwhelming demand meant that we would have inevitably disappointed thousands of customers with late orders.
Someone pointed out to me that I should not be this candid about ending the promotion early because it makes us seem inexperienced and underprepared. But the truth is, we didn’t take these factors into account. What’s also true is that, like always, we learn from mistakes like this. And we learned a lot last week.
We’re really excited to do this kind of promotion again, only this time with better preparation and with an equally great offer that doesn’t allow a few rotten apples to ruin it for everyone else. We’ll be doing more of these promotions during the holidays, so I hope you’ll come back to visit often or even join our email list so you can be the first to know.
Another thing that I continue to learn with every unexpected turn we face is how this company rallies together. Our family spirit continues to amaze me. Staff members from every department of the company pitched in and even worked over the weekend, bringing in their families (yes those are my kids below, and don’t worry—we double checked their work!) to ensure that we did not disappoint customers. Every one of our six core values shone through these past few days, and it’s been a heartfelt and humbling experience for all of us.